Social Media

foursquare: Your Social Life, Metagamed.

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There’s a new social network in town.

At first, when I heard people talking about it from New York, Atlanta, and Austin, I really didn’t see what the big deal was.  I used Brightkite, and stopped using it because there was no real value other than telling people how I found a free welcome bonus no deposit casino online, the £100 in bet credits with betfair and other things I did(after all, I was already doing that with Twitter – why add to it with another social network?)

But, after giving it a good weekend testing, and getting my wife horribly addicted, I can safely say that foursquare is the next big thing in social networking.

“Mitch, that’s a bold statement to make,” you might say.  Well, that may be, but after using foursquare for only a weekend I’ve already found tons of utility in having businesses get themselves on the map with foursquare.

So, what is foursquare?

Here’s the short version: times during work hours don’t count, but anytime after and on the weekend you can visit locations and “check-in”.  It will show you who else using foursquare has checked in, can alert you when your friends check in to different places (so you can meet up with them), and will even award people a “mayor” title for being a frequenter.  There are also badges, and more features coming to award people for being adventurous (and punish people for being overly habitual).

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(People also put their own workplaces on foursquare… after all, who wouldn’t want to be the mayor of their job, yes?)

Let’s back up one second, though.  It displays who on foursquare is your potential number one customer.  It’s like every business now has an opportunity to give back to those who support them.

So, what’s the point if I run a small business?

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What kind of giving back?  What about giving anyone who checks in a dollar off of one drink?  Small price to pay for people to advertise their favorite bar to their friends (and potentially get them to meet up with you and buy more drinks!).  Are you the mayor?  Congratulations!  You get a few free drinks!  If I ended up getting free drinks from a business just because I went there a lot (and talked about it on foursquare) you can bet I’d be going back more than a few times.

There are a few businesses on the West Coast taking advantage of foursquare to give out promotions and specials (the mayor drinking free special is ripped straight from the headlines of the foursquare blog).  But, even though the site is new (and lots of other features are coming), I think there’s a huge potential for businesses to jump on board early and get their name out as fresh, innovative supporters of a fun new way to socialize with friends.

OK, but what if I’m a customer?  What’s the big draw?

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Meta-gaming.

Earning achievements for doing stuff that you do normally (going out to clubs, coffee shops, shopping, stores, etc).  The XBox Live has made meta-gaming one of the most addictive aspects of the games, it is almost as popular as the P4R Gaming services.

But what if you could earn a badge for going to 5 different spots in one night? (That’s the “Crunked” badge for those of you curious as to the existence of such a badge).  Or for hitting 10 different locations (“Adventurous”)?  It takes 10 seconds to check in (more if you need to add the venue, but not that much more) and you’re in..  There are blogs dedicated to what games have the easiest achievements and how to earn points to boost your gamer score.

And you get stats every week to look at your patterns.  Who wouldn’t like to know just how habitual they can (or can’t) be?

Foursquare is still relatively new, but I think that if enough businesses take the small step (aka, mention on a flyer, on Facebook, on Twitter, or to their customers) that it could really take off and go places. Who wouldn’t pay a dollar for a free advertisement to their customer’s friends?  Who wouldn’t give away a few drinks one night to the mayor (and make a big deal out of it) to get lots of great photos of people having fun and get their customers talking about it for weeks?